The recent surge of women in the professional ranks has affected more than the income gap between the two sexes.

Premeditated by the initial lack of income balance, the closing chasm continues to shape a new generation of relationships formed around new rules.

One of the more ballyhooed consequences of women increasing earning power is the shift it forces on intimate relationships. If financial security is something more women are doing for themselves these days, does this change what they expect from their counterparts?

As many black women grind their way through the corporate labyrinth, they are confronted with another when stepping out the office. Enter the story of the ambitious woman who comes across the not-as-ambitious man with a heart of gold. He digs her. She digs him, yet can’t shake that nagging feeling of not only their income disparity, but their differing aspirations.

He is unnerved by their income disparity and his insecurities start to show. Before long their bond is splintered, then severed. She moves on to date more ambitious types, but realizes those types are harder to rein in. He moves on, never quite quelling his financial insecurity. He improves his situation, but becomes reliant on it to prove his value.

The cycle goes on and on. The two characters in this scenario are both searching for acceptance, love, a hug, what have you, but perceived differences in status derails many relationships before they start and shuts down many while in flight. Their love turns “political:” Classism enters into the fray.

Classism: prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social or economic class.

Many women base a man’s suitability on their socioeconomic status, while many men choose the woman with the beautiful exterior over beautiful interior. In either case, increasing in status seems indistinguishable from gaining love.

It’s an extension of nature. We are drawn to groups most likely to affirm our own deeply-held values. A hard-working entrepreneur wouldn’t be a prudent match for a slothful part-timer just like a person working the cash register at McDonald’s isn’t apt to date the VP of Marketing at General Mills.

As the current economic climate continues to bend the relationship arc, new identities are being forged. A common folly we tend to make is assuming a zero-sum game in gender dynamics. A gain to one doesn’t have to be a loss to the other. If anything, the evolving landscape indicates a jettisoning of outdated principles such as:

a) a man’s masculinity being determined by his fiscal pursuits
b) a woman’s inferiority because of her lack of fiscal pursuits
c) a man and woman being unable to co-exist as a power couple

Financial stability is essential for any human family; it’s the equivalent of bears and lions staying stocked on nourishment. For a relationship to thrive in this world, basic financial needs must be met. As that relationship grows in quality and quantity (children arrive on the scene), more needs must be met.

This involves healthy planning and alignment of financial intelligence, thus why classism in this context isn’t necessarily a death knell. Choosing an individual with like-minded ideals about socioeconomic status is essential.

“Power” couples exist primarily for this reason. By power couple, I’m simply referring to two individuals uniting with what they have in a desire to create something greater. Like many, I had an up close example of my first power couple. My grandparents were both educated, but more importantly, were in lock step with each other about the legacy they wanted to leave on the world. I imagine somewhere in that combination of power and love is something that all thriving couples possess.


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